Print version ISSN 0121-5256
Psychotherapy remains an effective option in the treatment of diverse types of psychiatric disorders. Although its effectiveness has been widely demonstrated for more than two decades, the biological mechanisms by means of which it exerts an effect over the brain function and the patient's behavior, continues to be unknown. In this article we review the possible mechanisms that mediate its effect on the brain function, among them the cellular and molecular bases of memory, the modifications in the neurotransmitter systems and the synaptic plasticity. The review of the accumulated evidence allows us to suggest that psychotherapy exerts a neurophysiologic effect at the same level of psychotropic drugs; however, differences in regional specificity and of the white system may explain the differences that are observed between these two forms of treatment.
Keywords : psychotherapy; neuronal plasticity; learning; memory.